Friday, 5 January 2007

stand and deliver at acmi's australia day celebrations!

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will celebrate Australia Day 2007 with the Melbourne premiere screening of the National Film and Sound Archive's (NFSA) digitally restored cinematic classic, The Story of the Kelly Gang.

The Story of the Kelly Gang premiered in Melbourne on Boxing Day 1906 and instantly created a sensation that lasted for years, however, soon after much of the film disappeared, leaving only a few fragments. The digitally restored version of the silent film classic premiered at the NFSA in November and will have its Victorian premiere at ACMI on Friday 26 January 2007, followed by a weekend of free screenings, workshops and kids activities.

The surviving footage of The Story of the Kelly Gang has been painstakingly restored by the NFSA to a condition as close as possible to the original using state-of-the-art technologies for moving image both here in Australia and in specialist labs in the Netherlands.

The film was made by theatre producer Charles Tait and proved to be an instant blockbuster: at one time up to six copies of the film were touring Australia and New Zealand and it continued to draw crowds for years. The last surviving print of the film was apparently destroyed in London in the Blitz. Since 1976 three separate fragments have come to light, one was found during a house renovation and another on a rubbish tip. Earlier this year a curator at the NFSA discovered another seven minutes safely stored in the vaults of a London archive.

As the highlight of its Australia Day program, ACMI will hold two screenings of The Story of the Kelly Gang featuring live musical accompaniment specially commissioned by the NFSA. The screenings will be complemented by a panel discussion exploring the legend of Ned Kelly and how the Irish Catholic working-class criminal became a part of Australian folklore.

As well as the screening of The Story of the Kelly Gang, the Australia Day weekend at ACMI will feature a series of free screenings of great Australian films for all ages, including the classic 1966 film They're a Weird Mob and Mick Jagger's portrayal of Ned Kelly in Ned Kelly, Outlaw.

ACMI will come alive with a series of special Australia Day weekend workshops where visitors can compose their own alternative to the Australian anthem in ACMI's Digital Studio, make their very own Ned Kelly mask or create their own animation, which will form part of a collaborative animation project to be screened at ACMI later in 2007.

Celebrate Australia Day with a long weekend of special free programming

Friday 26 January - Sunday 28 January - All programs free!

Fri 26 Jan 2pm
Talk > The Story of the Kelly Gang
Prior to the Melbourne premiere of the restoration by the National Film and Sound Archive of the world's first ever feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang, join a panel of guests as they explore the legend of the bushranger in Australian mythology, and debate all things 'Kelly'. Free, but tickets required. Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Fri 26 Jan 3.30pm, Fri 26 Jan 4.30pm
The Story Of The Kelly Gang TBA
ACMI and the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) are proud to present the NFSA's newly restored The Story of the Kelly Gang. Acknowledged as the first feature length narrative film ever made worldwide, the NFSA has, over the past forty years, located over 17 minutes of the original film from various sources. On its initial release, The Age declared 'the story provides sufficient sensationalism to satisfy the most frequent outbursts of applause, the audience indicated the quality of the entertainment had not been overstated' (Australian Cinema; The First Eighty Years).

Utilising the NFSA's curatorial expertise and preservation networks, the original film fragments were digitally scanned by Haghefilm Laboratories (Amsterdam) using the DIAMANT digital restoration system. This allowed for a major digital refurbishment to remove dirt, scratches and other blemishes, as well as the interpolation of frame content which had otherwise been lost through the film's physical deterioration, that is 'lost' information within each frame of the film is reclaimed. This cleaner, clearer and much more detailed 35mm film is presented as it would have first been seen, projected at 18 frames per second and with a live musical accompaniment, especially commissioned by the NFSA. Free, but tickets required. 

Sat 27 Jan 2pm > Free
They're A Weird Mob G
Based on the hugely popular novel by John O'Grady (written under the pseudonym Nino Culotta), Michael Powell's light-hearted tale of an Italian migrant's experiences in coming to terms with Australian life was, nationally, a great commercial success. Italian import Walter Chiari stars as the 'green' Italian journalist who immigrates to Australia to find the job he was expecting has vanished. Instead, work as a builder's labourer is waiting. With much amusement caused by him taking the Aussie slang of the day too literally, the film remains a good-humoured celebration of Australian stereotypes.

Sat 27 Jan 4pm > Free
Beneath Clouds M
The tension implicit in the complex dynamic of contemporary Australia race relations permeates every frame of writer/director Ivan Sen's stylish road movie. Blonde, light-skinned Lena is in denial about her Aboriginal heritage; breaking away from home, she meets up with petty crim Vaughn (Damien Pitt) who's just escaped from low security prison to reluctantly visit his dying mother. An uneasy relationship forms as they hit the road heading to Sydney, taking them on a journey that's as emotional as it is physical, as revealing as it is desperate. Beneath Clouds has garnered an array of awards including the 2002 AFI Awards for Best Direction and Best Cinematography, the 2002 IF Award for Best Direction and, at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival, the First Movie and New Talent Awards. Free, but tickets required.

Fri 26 Jan 1.30pm, Sun 28 Jan 10.30am, Sun 28 Jan 1pm > All tickets $5
Opal Dream PG (Mild themes, Mild violence, Mild coarse language)
The Full Monty director, Peter Cattaneo, sets a similarly genial tone in this UK/Australian co-production, adapted from Ben Rice's novella, Poppy and Dingham. The Williamsons - mum (Jacqueline McKenzie), dad (Vince Colosimo), 9-year-old Kellyanne and 10-year-old Ashmol - live in the outback mining town of Cooper Pedy. When Kellyanne's imaginary friends go missing and her father is unfairly accused of 'ratting', Ashmol digs deep to set things right.

Sun 28 Jan 2pm > Free
Mad Dog Morgan M
Philippe Mora's haunting account of the pursuit and capture of legendary bushranger Daniel Morgan explores the psychological impact of colonialism on mid-nineteenth century Australia. Morgan (Dennis Hopper) is a gold prospector driven to a life of bush banditry after being identified as a Chinese sympathiser during the massacre of the Chinese on the goldfields. Incarcerated for an armed bailup, Morgan is branded, tortured and raped by a system determined to bring about his demise. Features David Gulpilil. Free, but tickets required.

Sun 28 Jan 4pm > Free
Ned Kelly, Outlaw PG
'Such is life', the infamous final words of legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, set the tone for Richardson's folkloric bushranger tale starring the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger. Set in the broader political context of British colonialism in late nineteenth century Australia, Richardson's Kelly is a downtrodden Irish Catholic forced into thievery and violence by corrupt British authorities. Gerry Fisher's superb cinematography captures the menacing threat of the Australian bush country reinforcing the tragic fate that awaits this national hero. Free, but tickets required.

Australia Day Workshops

Fri 26 Jan 11am, 1.30pm, 4pm > Free
Australian Anthem
What does it mean to be Australian? What kind of music epitomises Australia? Is it the bush ballad or something more contemporary? Get hands-on in our high-tech studio to propose an alternative national song of your own! Each session is limited to 18 participants. Bookings will be taken at the Digital Studio one-hour before each session.

Fri 26 Jan 10am - 4pm > ACMI Foyer > Free
Ned Kelly Moving Portrait
Like an animated wanted poster, we're creating a moving image portrait of Melbourne's aspiring Kellys. Make your Ned Kelly mask on the day, or bring along one that you prepared earlier, to contribute your image to a mass mosaic of images to be shown on screen at ACMI.

Fri 26 Jan 10am - 4pm > ACMI Foyer > Free
Scratch Animation Spectacular!
Contribute to this collaborative animation project. Starting from our Federation Square entry, we'll be on hand to show you how to scratch your imagery on to film stock. We've got hundreds of metres of film for you to get creative with, and we plan to have it cascade over the ACMI balconies. The final product will be spliced together to create a collaborative film that will be screened at ACMI in the coming months.

Print of The Story of the Kelly Gang courtesy: the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
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